ETSU easy prey to Mountaineers

By Allen LaMountain
ASSISTANT SPORTS EDITOR

   BOONE, N.C. -- With tailback Jerry Beard rushing for 100 of his 121 yards in the first half, the Appalachian State Mountaineers cruised to a 33-14 victory over the struggling East Tennessee State Buccaneers on Saturday at Kidd Brewer Stadium.
   The Bucs fell to 1-3 on the season, and are winless in two Southern Conference games, while Appalachian State improved to 3-1 (2-0 SoCon).
   The Bucs mustered just 76 yards of total offense in a first half that saw Appy jump out to a 17-0 lead at the break as junior quarterback Joe Burchette led a strong Mountaineer offensive attack.
   "The biggest difference from last week is that we re-organized the offensive line," said Beard. "We practiced harder this week than at any time I can remember, but the O-line said to 'put it on our backs', and they did the job."
   After stalling at the ETSU 23 yard line, Appalachian settled for a 30 yard field goal from Erik Rockhold to take a 3-0 lead.
   In the first half ETSU had four possessions that went three and out, forcing it's defense to try and hold back the tide to no avail.
   Appy went 57 yards on 11 plays to take a 10-0 lead with fullback Joey Hoover scoring on a one-yard dive.
   The Bucs defense managed to hold the fort for a short while, stalling the next two Appalachian drives before finally caving in under the constant pressure of an ineffective offense.
   "We are not a very confident offense right now," said Bucs head coach Paul Hamilton. "We have two quarterbacks and neither one has stepped up to the challenge of running the offense. We have as big a question mark on offense as any team I have coached."
   Appy took just eight plays to march 78 yards for another score, just before the break, to take a 17-0 lead as Hoover dove in from a yard out again. Hoover fumbled crossing the goal line and managed to recover the loose ball.
   At the half the anemic Bucs offense had rushed for minus-seven yards, had made just two first downs and saw their quarterbacks sacked twice.
   Appalachian scored again after the second interception by Bucs quarterback Matt Wilhjelm, as Sterling Hayward hauled in a 22-yard scoring pass from Burchette to give the Mountaineers a 23-0 lead after the point after kick hit the right crossbar.
   Hayward's catch capped a two-play drive that sapped whatever life still remained in the ETSU defense, as the Bucs became a penalty plagued squad thereafter.
   "We certainly had some frustration on the defensive side," commented Hamilton. "There was some immaturity that we will address, but the thing is that these guys believe we can win. Right now were struggling to make first and ten, but we aren't pointing fingers, there is still a camaraderie for each other."
   Wilhjelm capped the Bucs only sustained drive of the afternoon with a one yard plunge that finished a 10-play, 71 yard drive that made it a 23-7 contest.
   From there it was all Appy State with Mark Wright kicking a 20 yard field goal and backup tailback Sean Jackson scoring on a 20 yard run as the Mountaineer lead ballooned to 33-7.
   "This week was the most involved that I have been in the preparation for a game that I have in a long time," said Appy head coach Jerry Moore. "In fact, I realized how much I missed being a position coach. This team has a lot of pride, and we just went back to our old deal of running the football, and we wanted to get back to doing that."
   The Bucs scored late on a six-yard pass from Jatavis Sanders to Allen Johnson that was set up by a beautiful pass and catch from Sanders to Cecil Moore that went for 33 yards.
   Moore ended his day with nine receptions for 136 yards. The Bucs will be back in action at Memorial Center on Thursday night against The Citadel.